COP26: What is it and why is it so important?

Published on by Green Initiatives

One of 2021's most highly-anticipated, not to mention critically important, global events is about to unfold. From the 1st to the 12th of November, over 200 world leaders will meet to discuss Climate Change in Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow. 



Not only will this be the biggest summit ever held in the UK, it’s also expected to be one of the world’s most pivotal conventions in living memory.

Staged by the United Nations, the 26th session of the Conference Of the Parties (COP 26) to the UNFCCC takes place against the backdrop of many other global events.

Weather-related natural disasters are undeniably becoming increasingly frequent and more severe. Fires, floods, typhoons, and droughts have been recurring bruises in this year’s headlines.

This is not to mention a heat dome in Canada which saw the mountain town of Lytton consumed in flames following recorded temperatures reaching 49.6 degrees Celsius (121.3 degrees Fahrenheit).


“We can link extreme weather to climate change in the same way we can link smoking to cancer.”                                                   
Friederike Otto, Oxford University, Climate Change Researcher
Despite the socio-economic consequences being experienced by many countries in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change remains a priority for the international community.A priority which can be provided full attention for almost 2 weeks in November.

What Exactly is COP 26?

Conceived in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) is a global agreement to combat climate change.

To ensure this convention is adhered to, the Conference of Parties (COP) is responsible for monitoring and reviewing its progress. Initially consisting of 157 parties, the return of the USA in February of this year has seen the number swell to 197 different nations and territories. Furthermore, these parties are committed to regular meetings which not only look at past actions, but negotiate towards future improvements.

This UN Climate Change Conference has taken place every year since COP 01 (Berlin) in 1995. Until last year that is. Originally scheduled to take place last November, COP26 was deferred 12-months soon after the global outbreak of Covid-19. Not only has the enforced break provided more time for reflection between meetings, the global pandemic has heightened awareness of our relationship with nature. This past year has seen priorities re-ordered, with individuals and governments alike now more mindful of environmental concerns.

What Can Happen at A COP Meeting?

Most people are familiar with the COP meeting due to the Paris Accord formed at COP 21 in 2015.


This has been signed by 191 parties and is a legally binding treaty for each to significantly reduce their levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

Seen as a major movement in creating a net-zero emissions world, the Paris agreement was largely an evolution of the Kyoto protocol (COP 03) which only required developed countries to combat their emissions.

The Paris agreement became effective on 4th November 2016. 

Furthermore, there is a commitment to review each regions climate goals every 5 years. This provides added importance for this year’s event, with countries needing to put forward more ambitious plans and goals which tackle climate change. As such, the COP summits can be seen as a tool to accelerate the world’s united response to our current climate crisis.

What Happened at COP25?

The previous meeting in 2019 was scheduled to take place in Chile. However, it was moved to Madrid one month prior due to unrest caused by the Chilean protests. The conference itself produced mixed results, overrunning by two days as leaders failed to reach a consensus on several key points.


This conference is perhaps best remembered for key speeches made by Greta Thunberg who sailed across the Atlantic to attend. Demanding more transparency and greater urgency from politicians, the 16-year-old also implored the public to put more pressure on politicians to make their own countries more accountable.


“Our leaders are not behaving as if we are in an emergency. In an emergency you change your behaviour. If there is a child standing in the middle of the road and cars are coming at full speed you don't look away because it feels uncomfortable. You immediately run out and rescue that child.”

Greta Thunberg

The People’s Advocate

Tasked with inspiring COP 26 towards action is the world’s most recognisable naturalist, Sir David Attenborough.


A figure who has inspired millions upon millions of people all over the world, the 95-year-old broadcaster carries a weight of authority which nobody can avert their gaze from. Whether the passion and knowledge of this lifetime campaigner is enough to inspire the attendees is now the big question soon to be answered.

"There could not be a more important moment that we should have international agreement. The epidemic has shown us how crucial it is to find agreement among nations if we are to solve such worldwide problems."

Sir David Attenborough


Climate Action Conference Shanghai

In November 2021, the United Kingdom will host the 26th annual Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, where heads of state, climate experts, and leaders come together to address.

Green Initiatives will host the Climate Action Conference Shanghai with support from PwC ChinaThe United States Consulate GeneralThe British Consulate GeneralThe Norwegian Consulate General, and the Consulate-General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Key Topics 
  • COP26 Overview Introduction
  • Adapting to the climate change crisis
  • Low carbon economy transition for business
  • Solutions towards carbon emissions
  • China’s new zero commitment: The next big business opportunity

Click here for more information.